2014: A Year of New Beginnings or "Shoshin"

In a very simple and profound book by Suzuki Roshi, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, where the beginners mind is one of compassion. As Suzuki Roshi says, "when our mind is compassionate, it is boundless."In the beginners mind, there is no thought that you have attained something, rather when we have no thoughts about achievement, we can really learn something.

For 2014, consider being compassionate with yourself and others while approaching all challenges with an open mind, without judgement or attachment to results. In this way of approaching any project, relationship, problem, there is an openness, innocence and readiness to be open to all possibilities.

Wouldn't it be a great way to start any endeavor with openness, and readiness.
If you want to become an expert on anything, there is always a starting place of "not knowing." So the journey into 2014 begins with exploring the idea of change, newness, risk, and adventure. Personal knowledge may be one of the biggest risks to take to know yourself. Not knowing is an important part of learning. If you move forward into 2014 seeking, observing, learning, growing, staying mindful with a beginners mind, you may be surprised and delighted about the results. A "not knowing" mindset creates access to intuition, shakes off the "shoulds", and enables you to live more fully releasing creativity. It you want to explore compassion in your life, take on the role of a beginner with an open, receptive mind.
Learn to be mindful to decrease stress, pain, fear and enhance well-being. 

Optimism & Happiness


Is your glass half full or half empty? Perhaps taking time to examine your attitudes and boost your optimism.
Optimism is the belief that things will turn out well. It is the expectations that good things come your way and that you have the ability to control the direction of your life. Very importantly, optimism is a way of thinking, not a permanent part of your character. Optimism motivates people, pessimistic thinking leads to helplessness. Also, optimism creates resilience both physically and emotionally. Where are you on this scale? What will it take to get you more positive or optimistic? This quote is from Dr. Seligman himself.


What are the benefits of Optimism found by research? Just to mention a few.
  1. Healthier hearts
  2. Increased levels of good cholesterol
  3. Improved problem solving
  4. Improved immune system functioning
  5. 9% lower risk of stroke
  6. Lower depression & PTSD
  7. 243 Centerarians had positive attitudes toward life.
If you want to know more about Optimism, read works from Martin Seligman, Ph.D. You can take an optimism test to see where you stand. You may want to also check out Seligman's book on optimism.

30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself in 2014

Marc Chernoff published a great blog post describing 30 Things to Stop Doing for Yourself" then, what to START doing. So, pulling straight away from his list for the upcoming year......take stock of the items listed below to begin a new perspective and life. You have the green light to start a new way of being in the world to move you to happiness, engagement, pleasure, purpose and meaning.

  1. Start spending time with the right people.
  2. Start facing your problems head on.
  3. Start being honest with yourself.
  4. Make your happiness a priority.
  5. Start being proud of yourself.
  6. Start noticing and living in the present.
  7. Start valuing the lesson your mistakes teach you.
  8. Enjoy what you have.
  9. Be polite to yourself.
  10. Create your own happiness.
  11. Give your ideas and dreams a chance.
  12. Believe you are ready for the next step.
  13. Enter new relationships for the right reason.
  14. Give new people you meet a chance.
  15. Compete against an earlier version of yourself.
  16. Cheer for other people's victories.
  17. Look through a silver lining in touch situations.
  18. Forgive yourself and others.
  19. Help those around you.
  20. Listen you your own inner voice.
  21. Be attentive to your stress level and take breaks.
  22. Notice beauty of small moments.
  23. Accept things when they are less than perfect.
  24. Work toward your goals every day.
  25. Be more open on how you feel.
  26. Take full accountability for your own life.
  27. Actively nurture your most important relationships.
  28. Concentrate on the things you can control.
  29. Focus on the possibility of positive outcomes.
  30. Notice how wealthy you are right now.
Begin now making this holiday and 2014 your best yet.Link to article. Marc & Angel Hack Life

Monitoring Your Stress: Biofeedback that Matters

Even if you are not paying attention to the stress you are experiencing, I guarantee that your body is noticing and attempting to communicate to you. You can choose to pay attention or ignore those signals. However, there will be physical, emotional, energy and behavioral consequences if you choose not to listen to these body feedback messages. What messages you ask? When you are in stress overload, a variety of signals will be present. It is important to learn and understand YOUR body's messages for your sake and those around. Some symptoms of stress include (but not limited to:

  • sleeplessness/insomnia
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • high blood pressure
  • teeth grinding
  • pain
  • hives
  • panic
  • increased drinking
  • crying spells
  • loneliness
  • anger/irritability
What to do? RELAX & REST. Take an inventory of the balance or imbalance in your life. Find what is out of sync in terms of work/life/play/spiritual areas. Stress and pain are manageable, but you need tools to assist in managing symptoms. Engaging in life balance helps build resilience and reduce stress. Listening to your body and then making adjustments will help improve the quality of your life. Biofeedback is a therapeutic modality that "teaches" you about what generates or relieves stress. Give it a try. This is a photo of a Temperature Training for Biofeedback. There are 3 other methods of Biofeedback, GSR or Galvanic Skin Response or Skin Conductance, EEG or Electroencephalogram (EEG) Test to Measure Brain Electrical Activity. There are four brain wave types: Beta, Alpha, Theta & Delta. Beta is for our normal waking state, Alpha is the "relaxed" state or desired wave pattern. The last type of Biofeedback is EMG or Electromyograph or muscle training to relax specific muscle groups. The electrodes are placed on the neck, forehead, or area of pain or spasm and you can teach that particular muscle to relax by watching the EMG wave pattern. These different Biofeedback monitors and systems just help determine ways to measure relaxation or tension via "feedback" from your body to determine if you are relaxed. Once you learn the mental, emotional and physical markers in your mind and body, you can train yourself to alter them for relaxation, tension reduction or relaxed brain wave. For example, for Temperature training, the higher your peripheral skin temperature, the more relaxed you are. Warm hands and feet indicate increased blood flow, reduced muscle tension and thusly, reduced pain and stress. The training goal is the 90 degree range. Give Biofeedback a try. There are many applications that will give you relief and control.